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 In Which We Get Immensely Rich

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Number of posts : 761
Registration date : 2007-04-26

PostSubject: In Which We Get Immensely Rich   Mon 17 Sep - 12:02:24

In Which We Get Immensely Rich

Picture for yourself a place so bleak and barren that it makes Canvey Island waterfront on a Monday night in November seem like the happening centre of the multiverse. Cliffs of grey stone broken up by rocky outcrops and spectacular expanses of scree slopes created by aeons of elemental pounding create a gloomy landscape under leaden skies. The wind howls around the peaks of ancient worn mountains whose resolute determination to remain has left them ragged and beaten down as they slowly lose their battle for existence.

There is no sign of life here where the desert meets the mountains that suck the rain away that otherwise would breathe life to the plain. No wisps of even the hardiest shrubs find rootholds in the dead soil; no sinister birds of prey circle on the updrafts of air currents that sweep the mountainsides, for prey is not to be found here; the word inhospitable was created for such a place, but even this word conveys only a shadow of the overwhelming desolation of a lunar like landscape.

But worse than all of this, this place has a secret: Under the ground, deep within the mountainside a great mother slumbers here. She cannot remember how long it is since she came to the great cavern, perhaps she was birthed here herself, but the answer to that question lies far beyond the dimmest recollections of her ancient faculties.

There came a day centuries ago when she returned to the cavern for the last time, her great bulk preventing her ever leaving. Now sustained by great sorcery and arcane mysteries, she is entombed here forever. She still performs her life’s work here, the propagation of her race, and surrounded by her offspring, she relentlessly spawns the promise of terror for the centuries to come.

This then is the land ravaged by the young dragon Inixia, who became the brood Mother Inixia and whose power stretches from this womb formed from a monstrously hostile cocktail of geography, geology and meteorology. Few would dare to approach this cursed region, few who have return, none have been able to rid the world of the great black dragon, whose legendary name is whispered fearfully, and who has left a trail of destruction through history, ending the dreams and destinies of many would be heroes.

What kind of fools, what kind of idiots, what kind of ludicrous imbeciles would possibly be caught dead in a place such as this? Well, I am getting a little ahead of myself, but I am sure that discerning reader that you are, a few names are already coming to mind.

So to change the subject completely, you’ll recall that we were in the desert having just defeated some of the nasty centaurs that we had been questing after in recent days. Still it could be worse; it wasn’t as if we were, I don’t know, trapped by some unbeatable enemy in a never ending circle of terror and false hope. Sorry, don’t know why I said that.

To continue, we resumed tracking our remaining centaur quarry and after many adventures, my trusty scouting crow Puderillo spotted their encampment in the distance. We decided to make a night attack on the camp which comprised a number of tents including one major fortified gazebo of some sort in the centre* which we assumed contained an evil, possibly white cat stroking, centaur genius who spent his waking hours plotting the obliteration of defenceless public houses that we planned to visit.

*We dismissed the thought that it was a circus after a ten minute weighing up of the possibilities

Approaching, we quickly provoked an investigation by four centaurs attracted by our habit of stepping on dry twigs that sound like rifle shots when trodden on.* We melted seamlessly into the desert, hugging the ground for dear life and the inquisitive centaurs passed us in the dark. It was the last mistake they would ever make, and they fell to a fusillade of missile fire.

*Twigs in the desert? Seasoned adventurers that we are, we bring our own carefully matured and seasoned twigs so as to ensure there are always suitably noisy breakables available. We also carry a good supply of feathers to ensure that we can sneeze at precisely the right moment to alert the guard when we are breathlessly concealed in closets for example.

Plainsweaver meanwhile recalled his Junior Tauren Scout First Class camping days, and began demonstrating how he obtained his emergency tent dismantling badge, which turned out to be at something like the third attempt.* We merrily murdered the peacefully resting centaur herd but then the two leaders, a mated pair emerged from the central tent with revenge on their minds.

*These Centaurs would have made fine vampire hunters judging by the quality of their stakes.

I welcomed the leader with a couple of arcane missiles and then remembered an urgent appointment that I had, just behind Plainsweaver, Fuq’Witt, Lutz and her orc bodyguards. Battle was joined and I was amongst those seriously injured by very unpleasant magical attacks from the female, who as the saying goes was far deadlier than the male of the species. So much for standing safely at the back.

Despite some nasty hits we dealt with the happy couple and quickly held a short ceremony of remembrance to honour our fallen adversaries. To the untrained eye this may have resembled a callous and thorough search of the bodies, tents and surrounding area, but hey, we feel it’s what they would have wanted. My contribution to the search was the discovery of a small harmless looking blue jewel in the main tent. Detecting a strong magical aura, I approached it cautiously and neither Kasbo, who checked it for traps, or I touched it.

We also discovered much to our surprise, very large amounts of gold hidden in underground chambers, and I mean alot, like major baggage train quantities. Foolishly having set out without forty pack mules or any sort of articulated vehicle, we gathered up as much gold as we could carry. We then rested and healed up before risking further investigation of the suspicious gem.

Touching it had an undesirable effect: It transported us across the desert south and west in just an instant. Poor Puderillo was left behind, together with the vast amounts of recently liberated gold. Unfortunately, we were also about to discover just how the centaurs had come by such a large amount of treasure from a career raiding pubs in the desert: They hadn’t.

The amount concerned was more commensurate with a top of the line predator given hundreds of years to accumulate wealth from hundreds of square miles filled with creatures who whilst quite able to accumulate gold, were not quite high enough up the food chain to hold on to it when faced with an angry, avaricious and evil dragon. As we were about to establish, it was in fact exactly that amount.

We were in a narrow dead end passage way, the blue jewel had now lost its lustre, appearing as pale and uninteresting as the crystalline walls of the cave we were in. At least that ended Talia’s interest in acquiring it. A glance through the narrow exit revealed a more significant problem than the fact that we were hopelessly lost. There was as they say, good news and bad news:

The good news was that on looking out, we knew where we were at once.

The bad news was that we were trapped in the lair of Inixiar.

For a description of the area, I refer the right honourable gentleman/ lady to the opening remarks of this account. This of course left us completely relaxed and unconcerned. The huge dragon dominated the cavern, eclipsing a glimmer of light that could be seen across the way, tantalisingly suggesting a trauma free existence lacking the possibility of instant incineration if we could just skip our way past the beast.

Fluttering gaily amongst the stalactites of the ceiling, miniaturised versions of the great slumbering behemoth gambolled happily, no doubt playfully enacting future episodes of maiden seizing, Knight toasting, on top of large piles of treasure dozing,* - the full range of dragon activities in fact.

*I did consider including Donkey shagging in this list as it was the only other dragon occupation I could think of, but I decided in the interests of taste and decency and legal action from Pixar, not to.

On the floor, clutches of giant eggs could be glimpsed in a scene which lacked only Third officer Ripley and her flamethrower/Grenade launcher combination. Sadly Sigourney Weaver was away having unexpectedly decided to take acting classes and Talia had left her own Swiss army flamethrower on the kitchen table back home. A quick check of our arsenal revealed that our equipment was about as useful as a small fruit knife would be in facing a horde of ravenous wolves. Wolves armed with machine guns that is.

Electing to sneak out, we began to edge past the creature. The next events are something of a blur: Someone obviously made a noise just as I was crossing the cavern and some of the friendly little dragons swooped down and I found myself carried into the air. Somewhat concerned having less than fond memories of recent air travel that seemed to involve a great many near death experiences, I unleashed arcane missiles at two of my captors killing them both.

Now of course I can currently only fire two, but I made as if to cast a third and the others dropped me. There was barely time for me to worry about the fact that I may now break my neck, but fortunately only my fall was broken- By a seventy tonne thousand year old black dragon with extreme halitosis and a bad attitude when woken without the aid of some radio three and a cup of coffee.

I was somewhat concerned at my predicament as you might expect. I instantly drew my trusty wand. This you may recall was designed to delver two angry fire elementals which would I hoped attack and distract the beast whilst I made good my escape. Now I’m not exactly up to speed on this wand having acquired it second hand without an accredited users’ manual, so I have to admit that I had to wing it slightly. My state of mind also probably didn’t help either.

Instead of the desired effect, I therefore succeeded in summoning about a hundred tiny imps from the elemental plane of fire. The good news: These did prove a distraction. The bad news: They seemed as ill disposed towards me as everything else in the cavern. Rolling to the ground I unhitched my trusty waterskin and squirted a pathway out of the cavern, my passage marked by clouds of steam. Behind me, with a deafening roar the roused Brood mother blasted the imps out of existence with her fiery breath.

An interesting side effect of the blast was that the whole crystalline wall was turned to the same blue s the original teleport crystal, no doubt a mystical side effect of some chemical involved in the combustion process. Could be an interesting subject for a paper. Plainsweaver then had possibly the worst idea ever: Touching the newly empowered crystalline walls would teleport us back to the centaurs’ desert camp, right?

So nearly right. So, so nearly.

Yes, the newly energised walls did serve as a teleport, but no, not a reverse teleport. Just as the previous crystal, it teleported the whole party straight back to the small alcove at the rear of the cavern from which we had just escaped. Great work! So back where we started and we needed a new plan. We hit upon the old one.

And it worked just as well. This time, Kasbo ended up in trouble and was seized by Inixia herself. He may have been saved instant destruction by his grabbing of an egg, but there was little doubt that the strength enhanced gnome was in a serious pickle. As he rolled around inside its mouth debating whether to plunge his killer dagger into its evil brain, the need for him to decide was negated by Plainsweaver heroically deciding to save him by, you guessed it, touching the crystal again. I had just escaped the cavern and was starting to slow down when this happened, and hey presto,* back where we all started again.

*Ancient Guild Incantation

Third time’s the charm. I tried the wand again with exactly the same result, but the distraction worked again, aided by another of my famous distraction spells. The infuriated dragon was now thrashing about significantly, causing damage to its home and clearly it was a case of ‘come on down!’ Somehow in a confusion of eggs, mini dragons, screaming imps and above all the bellowing of the great beast, we broke clear.

As did the monster. From our position huddled on the windswept mountainside near the crumbling mess of the collapsed cavern, we witnessed Inixia flying north. So having been tasked with destroying the creature, we had in fact freed it, presumably to undertake a new reign of terror having been released from a confinement of many years, years in which no doubt it had had time to build up a considerable appetite. Oops.

We trailed back north meeting up with Puderillo and returning to our two headed ogre friends (they who were to have been our allies to deal with this very opponent for us,*) and a delegation accompanied us east towards Theramoore. We would have no trouble finding it at least, as someone had thoughtfully lit a giant fire to indicate its position.

*We asked what their plan was to deal with the dragon. Confidentially they said they believed that the cavern had weak points and could be persuaded to collapse in on her

We arrived in time to see a remarkable sight. Our old mate Thrall Doomhammer having subdued Inixia, banished her with some impressive sorcery that saw the beast sink into the very earth. We then had a surprisingly civilised conversation in which:

1) We avoided mentioning that it was us who had released the dragon
2) We avoided mentioning our acquisition of a vast amount of treasure that we had left stashed underground in the desert.
3) We avoided being executed
4) We avoided being raped
5) We took full credit for bringing peace to ogre kind
6) We assigned full blame for the dragon episode to the late Mr Lane
7) We were released from our obligations
Cool We received a pleasant reward each
9) We were deprived of certain juicy items, notably my ring, Kasbo’s dagger and Plainsweaver’s death magic scroll
10) We learned that Inixia had warmed up for the attack on Theramoore by destroying the rebels to the north.
11) We avoided being conscripted into the major rebuilding projects clearly required in Theramoore, which seemed unaccountably to have fallen into serious ruin since our visit followed by a major conflagration*
12) Talia avoided murdering anyone
13) Kasbo avoided stealing anything
14) Lutzbar’s bodyguards retired
15) Plainsweaver failed to do anything stupid
16) No goblins attempted to shaft us (see also 4)
17) We received no missions that would put us in mortal peril
18) We were not even mildly threatened
19) We avoided being blamed for killing Mr Lane
20) We avoided arrest for anything whatsoever
21) We avoided offending the Horde or Alliance

*In this respect it now closely resembled virtually every other town we have visited of late, so at least we are consistent

It all ended with us imbued with a sense of free will and freedom that will no doubt prove illusory. The plan now is to provision up and return to the desert with sufficient transport to reclaim our gold and see where the spirit of adventure takes us.

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